Modern slavery, hidden in plain sight | Kate Garbers | TEDxExeter


Translator: Moe Shoji
Reviewer: Ellen Maloney I would like to introduce you to Grace. Just so you know, Grace is not
her real name but her story is very real. Real for her and many men
and women like her. Grace is an Ethiopian lady.
She is married, with a small daughter. A few years ago, in Grace’s village,
there was an uprising. A local militia group came through,
looting, raping, burning and killing indiscriminately. Grace managed to hide
and escape the onslaught. Her husband and her daughter
were not so lucky. With no money, no home,
and no family left, Grace decided to leave her village. She made ends meet by collecting plastic,
glasses and bottles from the street, and swapping them for small amounts
of money so that she could get food. While she was living on the street,
she was approached by a man who seemed to understand her situation. They began to build a friendship
and she began to trust him. He seemed to understand
all that she had been through, and offered Grace the opportunity
to get away from it all: to start afresh, to get a new job, and to rid herself of some
of her memories that this place held. Grace decided that things
couldn’t get any worse and decided to take this opportunity. She did not realize
that the job was not in Ethiopia. She did not realize she would have to
get on a plane for the first time ever. Nor did she realize
that she would be sold. Grace arrived in England
and was taken to a flat. She was introduced to a man and told that she must do
everything he told her to do. Grace was then locked into that flat and raped daily by men
who rented her out. She was isolated,
she didn’t speak the language, she had no idea where to go for help. Grace was trapped and had been enslaved. “Slavery”: it is a powerful word. Civilizations trade wealth. Even cities – London, Liverpool,
Bristol, to name a few – have been built
on the global trade in people. It is a word that conjures images
of the transatlantic slave trade of cotton-picking, of sugar
plantations, and of slave ships. For many of us, we believe
that slavery was abolished with the William Wilberforce movement. However, for a staggering
46 million people, slavery is not a historical fact. It is a present reality. 46 million people. That is the equivalent of two-thirds
of the UK’s population. Once we begin to see slavery, it is staggering how our lives
connect with it. You may have seen in the news recently, one in ten senior Brazilian politician
funded by companies linked to slavery. Yezidi women sold by ISIS as sex slaves. There’s then the Libyan
slave markets selling people for as little as 400 dollars each. Then, there are the people
with limited choices, forced to work to meet
our demands for cheap goods. The children of the DRC, mining
minerals to make mobile phones. The women and girls in factories
in Bangladesh, working 12 hours a day for as little as 16p an hour
to sew clothes and garments. The pickers in fields,
picking fruit and vegetables to provide what we need. Once we start seeing slavery
and see how it connects to our lives, we begin to realize that actually those clothes are the things
that we are wearing. Those tomatoes being picked
are in our kitchen shelves. And those mobile phones
are in our back pockets and in our handbags. Today, I would like to make
the invisible visible, and the unseen seen. Last year, my organization
was involved in an operation with Devon and Cornwall Police. We were worried that there were
car washes right here in Exeter that were having people working
on them that were forced to work. The police were worried
that people may be enslaved and asked us to visit these sites. On the day of visiting, we were met
by nine disheveled Romanian men. Wary, nervous, and not wanting
to talk to us or engage. They had been told that they would
be deported if they spoke to anybody. They were EU citizens. They were unaware of their rights
and entitlements here, that they were legally allowed to be here,
and legally allowed to work here. They told us they worked
for as little as five pounds a day. They worked in all weathers,
seven days a week, washing our cars. They then went on to tell us that actually they also then owed
the person that bought them here: for their transportation,
they owed them for their rent, and they then owed them for their food. The job that they had hoped
to secure to send money home was getting them
into a perpetual cycle of debt. They then took us
to where they were living. Cramped, horrific conditions:
nine bunk beds, a shower and a toilet – that was good. They didn’t work.
They weren’t plumbed in. And they kept themselves warm
by keeping the oven door open. Hidden in plain sight, here in Exeter. This is not just happening in Exeter. It is happening in cities and towns
across the whole of the UK. Slavery is the commodification of people
for the purpose of exploitation and financial gain. It is ownership. It restricts freedom, and it controls
by force and psychological force. It affects men, women, and children. It takes many forms
and does not discriminate. Anybody can be bought or sold. Poverty, limited access
to education, limited choices, unstable political and social climates,
economic imbalances, and war. People like Grace. People like the guys that I met
on the car wash forecourt. Lured by the false promises
of a better life. Modern day slavery is far from
the transatlantic slave trade. The shackles and the chains
are no longer there. But the bonds have become
powerful and invisible. Psychological bonds. Slavery thrives on threat,
coercion, and deception. It prays upon vulnerability
and it abuses power dynamics. Slavery is worth 150 billion dollars. That is more than the profits of Apple,
Google, Microsoft, and Starbucks. And larger than lots
of the world’s economies. It is the fastest growing
international crime, second only to the arms trade. It has now surpassed the drugs trade,
purely because people can be bought and sold more than once. To definitively define the number
of slaves in the UK is really, really tricky. Last year, statistics told us that there were 5,000 potential
victims here in the UK. Experts believe that this number
is likely to be far higher. 5,000 men, women, and children
exploited in all forms of different sectors. They came from 100 different countries. The top three countries: Albania, Vietnam,
and right here in the UK. The people that pick
the daffodils in the fields that end up on our supermarket shelves. The people that help pave your driveway. The people that may clean your homes. The people that work in hotels. The guys that make your favorite
curry on a Friday night. The people that paint your nails. The people that wash your cars. I’m not saying that all of them are going to be forced
against their will to do this. And nor am I saying
that all of them will be slaves. But what I am saying is
that slavery has been identified in each of those sectors
right here in the UK. Slavery does not treat people
as unique individuals but as commodities, things
through which money can be made. You may be sitting there today
and thinking, “What can I do?” You can spot the signs of slavery
in your communities. Behind me on the screen now
are eight general indicators that you could look out for. Through the stories I have told today,
you will also understand where slavery may exist and where else
it may interact with your community. For a house on your street
that has comings and goings at all times of night and day. The person that serves you
but doesn’t give you eye contact, appears withdrawn. The service that you purchase but a third-party comes
and collects the money. All of these things may be indicators
that slavery is occurring. I think, often, we hesitate. We’re unsure, we don’t want
to get it wrong. But the Modern Slavery Helpline
is there to assist you. If you have any concerns around slavery,
if you think you have spotted any signs, call the Modern Slavery Helpline and they will be able
to help you and advise you. If after today you want to take action, go on to the Modern
Slavery Footprint website. This is a website
that allows you to understand where your lifestyle choices
connect with slavery. It gives you an estimate of
how many slaves are working for you. I am ashamed to say that after
all I know and after all I try to do, I have a staggering
38 slaves working for me. Once you are armed with this knowledge, you can start making personal choices
about what it is you want to do to start tackling this issue
in your own life. One day, Grace’s exploiter
left the door open. They left it unlocked. And she decided to take her chance. The police delivered Grace
to Unseen Safe House where she was able to access the care
and support she needed. She accessed the doctor,
sexual health support, counselling, and legal advice. Grace is now living independently
in the community. She is an amazing woman. She is learning English,
and not only that, she is now volunteering
to help other vulnerable women. The guys in the car wash:
five of them bravely decided to leave with the police and Unseen that day. We assisted them
to get better accommodation, and also safe and secure employment. I would like to leave you today
with the words of William Wilberforce. “You may choose to look the other way,
but you can never again say that you did not know.” Thank you. (Applause)

15 thoughts on “Modern slavery, hidden in plain sight | Kate Garbers | TEDxExeter

  1. An amazing talk that sheds a light on the hidden world of modern day slavery. The shocking thing is that it may be taking place right now in the village, town or city you are living in. There's a thought provoking moment when Kate states how many slaves "work for her' and ask, how many are working for us and keeping us in the lifestyles that we're accustomed to.

  2. We have a video about Modern Slavery, how to spot the signs and what to do if you suspect someone is a victim of modern slavery. Click our logo to visit our YouTube channel and watch the video and leave any comments.

  3. Doesn't fit in the pan-African doctrine, onley whites are oppressors and racists.
    Don't agree that migration is the solution of the problems the migrants are facing in their regions.
    The leaders of those countries people are migrating from should be addressed about their responsibility.
    Albania, Vietnam , subsahara, middle east etc etc etc.
    This narrative is dangerous because we can't distinguish between those forced to work and those out of free will and has a racistic tendence.

  4. 'You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.' 💙

  5. I've talked to many people, and 100% think I'm a kook, when I tell them there are more slaves today, then in all of history. Some researched it and apologized, saying how shocked they are. The rest? I'm assuming they never bothered thinking about it, after insulting me. My guess is, the vast majority of westerners believe slavery is a thing of the past. This epidemic NEEDS to be brought out of the darkness and into the light, where everyone can see. EVERY country has slaves, bar none. Yes – there are worse countries, but chances are, there is a shop near you, who "employees" slaves.

  6. Well presented!
    The inequality of earning, and lack of education in much poorer countries are the main causes.
    Since the turn of the century, as the gap between rich and poor is ever widening, crimes have increased. But what can we do about this? Well, the eight people whose wealth is now equal HALF of the world has a role to play to make this world a better place, by funding some of their huge wealth towards educating the poorest. Immigration in airports and ports here in uk also have a role to play especially with children coming from Africa. We might not be able to prevent it all from happening, but one is better than nothing!
    Thank you.

  7. The System is the Problem, the System is the first to enslave the human being race. Where ever you have a Government you will have to pay for everything. GOVERNMENT = SLAVORY

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *